The Met Office has confirmed parts of the UK are set to see their hottest days of the year so far this weekend. The warm weather comes due to the arrival of the ‘African plume’ heatwave. While many have waited months for the nicer weather, high temperatures can be dangerous for us and our furry friends.
Liz Lannie, Expert Pet Behaviourist at Bella & Duke, said: “Summer is a great time to get out and explore the world while building a healthy and happy bond with your dog, but it does come with some risks. By no means should it be feared as by following the right steps you can make sure all of your outside time with your furry friend can be an enjoyable and most importantly safe experience.
“You can never be too prepared but by making sure you regularly brush your pet and bring them plenty of water, you’re on the right track to have a memorable summer with your favourite companion”
So, what are the best ways to keep your dog safe during the hotter weather? Here’s everything you need to know from the experts.
Top 10 tips for keeping your dogs safe during heatwave
1. Water, water, everywhere
Like humans, dogs sweat and lose water, mainly through the glands in their paws. They can lose up to one litre of water per day and the more water they lose, the higher the chances of overheating. Have multiple water stations spread equally around your home during summer to safeguard your dog from overheating and dehydration.
2. Stick to the shade
Heatstroke can easily be induced by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, so if you are in outside areas, make sure there are shaded areas where your dog can relax and recharge. Most dogs will naturally orientate to shadier spots, but it’s good to keep a close eye on your dog and watch for signs of heatstroke such as excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, dullness or loss of consciousness. If your pet does show signs of heatstroke, immediately bring them into the shade and pour some cool, not cold, water over them to bring down their body temperature.
3. Leave the car at home
There is no safe time to leave a dog alone in the car, but particularly in the summer months, the temperature in your car soars above the temperature outside. In a car, dogs can develop heatstroke in just 15 minutes. An enclosed car can reach double of the outside temperature and even with water and open windows, cars are not a safe space for dogs in the summer.
4. Long walks on the beach
Long walks on the beach are a big no for your pup, but sunbathing while your dog goes for a swim is a great way to keep your pet cool. A refreshing dip in the cool water can work wonders to bring down your dog’s body temperature. Dogs have sensitive feet that can burn or get injured if the ground they are walking on is too hot, so if you are on the beach, make a conscious effort to limit the amount of time your dog walks on the sand.
5. A cool appetiser
Humans are not the only creatures that like cool food in warm weather. Keep your dog’s food and treats in the fridge for chilled serving and feed them wet food. A cool dish of raw meat is the perfect summer supper for increased water intake. Bone broth lollies are also great summer snacks. Pop your bone broth into some ice cube or lolly moulds, leave in the freezer for a few hours and serve.
6. Chill by the (paddling) pool
For when you don’t have access to the beach, why not invest in a paddling pool for your pooch to splash about in. In a shady spot of the garden, fill a pool with chilled water but don’t make it too cold as this can cause your dog to go into body shock due to the drastic temperature change on a very hot day. This will help to responsibly bring down your furry friend’s body temperature and absorb water through their skin and paws, making sure they are hydrated as well as cool.
7. Staying safe by the BBQ
BBQs and hot weather go hand in hand but it’s important to understand how you can make them as safe as possible for your pets. Make sure you place your BBQ well out of the way where dogs and children can’t get to it. Also beware of any kebab sticks, BBQ briquettes and firelighters laying around as these are something the perfect opportunist and scavenging eater will try to get their paws on.
8. Lathering up is also for pooches
Dogs can get sunburnt, and yes, sunscreen is also for dogs. Body parts less covered in hair are more at risk of sunburn in summer, and lighter haired dogs are the most at risk, so use sunscreen specifically designed for canine use for protection. Sunburn for dogs isn’t just painful, but like humans it can also increase risk of skin cancer.
9. Grooming is cooling
Much of the battle against overheating can be fought at home before going out with your dog. Most dogs will start to shed their coat as summer begins, so regular brushing will get rid of any old hair that could make them even hotter. This is particularly important if your dog goes through a summer moult or has a heavy coat. Additionally,it’s important to know that dogs do not benefit from being completely shaved down. Doing this can result in skin problems and sunburn as their skin isn’t meant to be fully exposed to the elements.
10. Protect your pup from parasites
Keep up your regular grooming sessions with your dog not only to get rid of old hairs but to look for any unwelcome guests they’ve picked up from outside. Before tick season gets into full swing, make sure your dog is protected and you are prepared. Ticks and other biting bugs hide in long grass and love to latch onto pet’s and people’s skin. Ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease, so check your dog for them if you go for a grassy walk. If they have one either remove it yourself or take them to the vet as soon as possible.